John Francis Welch, also known as Jack Welch, is one of the most respected and legendary CEO’s of all time. He received his PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois and right out of college, he started working for GE as a chemical engineer. In 1981, after 20 years of working his way up the corporate ladder, he became GE’s youngest CEO at the age of 45 (“Jack Welch”).
One of Jack’s first most controversial business decisions was to convince GE to invest in Crotonville. Crotonville, today known as the John F. Welch Leadership Center, was GE’s corporate university. At this time, GE was in the process of eliminating non-preforming business units; this process fired an overwhelming 100,000 people (Nisen, Max). Jack focused his attention on the benefits of investing in the higher education provided through Crotonville. At first, some thought this process was unproductive, but Jack convinced them otherwise. His philosophy was that it would teach GE executives about the newfound corporate values and visions while accelerating their leadership skills within the company. After assuring his company of the usefulness of the investment, Welch committed approximately $50 million modernizing the campus and making changes to the curriculum. (Kaplan, David).
Crotonville became an elite and highly selective corporate university that only invited the “best of the best” to attend their university. According to the article, “The Single Best Business Decisions of All Time”, 90 percent of GEs top 600 managers were promoted from within, and 26 CEOs of large, publicly traded companies were GE alums as of 2008.
Evidently, the program was an extreme success greatly accredited to Jack Welch’s ethos. He gained immense credibility, reliability, and reputation throughout the 20 years he worked for GE prior to becoming CEO. If it weren’t for the credibility that Jack built up, he wouldn’t have been as credible in proposing the usefulness of this investment to GE. His title as CEO of the company attributed to his image of a respectable authority figure, rather than a complete outsider. Today, people all over the nation acknowledge his credibility. Over 25 books have been written about Jack Welch’s management philosophy, over 35 CEO’s have trained with him, and he has been a subject of case studies at top business schools (“Jack Welch”).
Welch also appealed to his employees ethos and pathos because of his personality and the credentials. He had a hard work ethic, was dependable, and was a responsible leader whom people felt comfortable following. Because of this, his employees trusted he knew how to improve the company, also known a practical wisdom. His credentials from obtaining degrees from reputable schools, and working within the company solidified the trust coworkers had in the investment. Moreover, Jack’s employees had respect and admiration for his initiative of innovative management techniques to better the company.
“Cycles of Learning: Observations of Jack Welch.” – ASQ. American Society for Quality, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.
“Jack Welch.” Jack Welch Management Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.
Kaplan, David A. “Jack’s Cathedral.” Greatestdecisions.gazelles.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.
Nisen, Max. “The Single Greatest Business Decision Of All Time.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 8 Oct. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.